Pneumonia, an infection of the lungs, needlessly affects millions of people worldwide each year. Pneumonia infections can often be prevented and can usually be treated. Globally, pneumonia kills nearly 1 million children younger than 5 years of age each year. This is greater than the number of deaths from any infectious disease, such as HIV infection, malaria or tuberculosis.
Pneumonia isn’t just a public health issue in developing countries though. For example, each year in the United States, about 1 million people are hospitalized with pneumonia, and about 50,000 people die from the disease. Most of the hospitalizations and deaths from pneumonia in the United States are in adults rather than in young children.
Many of these deaths—both globally and in the United States—are preventable through vaccination and appropriate treatment (like antibiotics and antivirals).
New Pneumococcal Recommendations for 2014
CDC now recommends 2 pneumococcal vaccines for adults 65 years or older.
You should receive a dose of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) first, followed by a dose of the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23), ideally 6 to 12 months later.
If you’ve already received any doses of PPSV23, the dose of PCV13 should be given at least 1 year after receipt of the most recent PPSV23 dose.
If you’ve already received a dose of PCV13 at a younger age, another dose is not recommended.
Lower Your Risk with Vaccines
In the United States, there are several vaccines that prevent infection by bacteria or viruses that may cause pneumonia:
Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
Pertussis (whooping cough)
These vaccines are safe, but side effects can occur. Most side effects are mild or moderate, meaning they do not affect daily activities. See the vaccine information statements (http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/vis/default.htm) for each vaccine to learn more about the most common side effects.
Protect Your Health with These Healthy Living Practices
Try to avoid close contact with sick people. While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them. Following good hygiene practices can also help prevent respiratory infections. This includes washing your hands (http://www.cdc.gov/features/handwashing/index.html) regularly, cleaning frequently touched surfaces, and coughing or sneezing into a tissue or into your elbow or sleeve. You can also reduce your risk of getting pneumonia by limiting exposure to cigarette smoke and treating and preventing conditions like diabetes.
WHAT IS PNEUMONIA?
Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs that can cause mild to severe illness in people of all ages. Common signs of pneumonia can include cough, fever, and trouble breathing.
Who Is At Risk for Pneumonia?
Certain people are more likely to become ill with pneumonia:
Adults 65 years of age or older
Children younger than 5 years of age
People who have underlying medical conditions (like asthma, diabetes or heart disease)
People who smoke cigarettes
Encourage friends and loved ones with certain health conditions, like diabetes and asthma, to get vaccinated against the flu and bacterial pneumonia.
Causes and Types of Pneumonia
Pneumonia can be caused by viruses, bacteria, and fungi. In the United States, common causes of viral pneumonia are influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and a common cause of bacterial pneumonia is Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus).
When someone develops pneumonia in the community (not in a hospital), it’s called community-acquired pneumonia. Pneumonia developed during or following a stay in a healthcare facility (like hospitals, long-term care facilities, and dialysis centers) is called healthcare-associated pneumonia, which includes hospital-acquired pneumonia and ventilator-associated pneumonia. The bacteria and viruses that most commonly cause pneumonia in the community are different from those in healthcare settings. It is important to know the specific cause of pneumonia to make the best decision about how to treat it.
Gamma Healthcare Implements Immunoassay Format for Fecal Occult Blood Screening
November 24, 2014:
The National Institutes of Health reports that colorectal cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer deaths in the United States 1. The good news is that a complete cure can be achieved with early diagnosis. Often times, colon cancer will have no symptoms but when symptoms are present they may include abdominal pain and tenderness, blood in the stool, diarrhea, narrow stools, or weight loss for no apparent reason 1. Through screening tests such as the fecal occult blood test by immunoassay (iFOBT), colon cancer can be detected prior to the development of many of these symptoms.
The fecal occult blood test by immunoassay our laboratory employs will detect small amounts of blood in the stool. More specifically, the immunological based test is designed to detect human hemoglobin in a patient’s stool with few, if any, interfering substances2. This is in sharp contrast to the conventional guaiac method, which tests for the presence of peroxidase activity in a patient’s stool with results subject to many interfering substances often leading to a false positive or false negative result. Fewer false positive results means fewer interventional procedures performed in patients without disease 2.
In the best interests of our patients, earlier this year we launched the immunoassay methodology for fecal occult blood testing. Traditional guaiac testing is no longer available. The following chart outlines the advantages of immunoassay over peroxidase testing.
Meat, certain vegetables, fruit and certain supplements (i.e. Vitamin C) three days prior
Nonsteroidal anti- inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, naproxen or aspirin one-week prior
A special collection device is required and must be used at the time of collection. Specimens are stable at room temperature for up to 8 days or up to 14 days if refrigerated.
This immunological assay can only be performed on feces. Occult blood testing on urine, gastric contents, or other body fluids will require an alternative methodology. Patients with hemorrhoids or menstrual bleeding should not consider testing until bleeding ceases. Do not collect a fecal specimen contaminated with urine or toilet bowl water as erroneous results may result.
CDC recommends a three-step approach to fighting influenza (flu). (1) The first and most important step is to get a flu vaccination each year. (2) There are prescription antiviral drugs that can treat your illness. Early treatment is especially important for the elderly, the very young, people with certain chronic health conditions, and pregnant women. (3) Everyday preventive actions may slow the spread of germs that cause respiratory (nose, throat, and lungs) illnesses, like flu.
Flu viruses are thought to spread mainly from person to person through droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze, or talk. Flu viruses also may spread when people touch something with flu virus on it and then touch their mouth, eyes, or nose. Many other viruses spread these ways too. People infected with flu may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5-7 days after becoming sick. That means you may be able to spread the flu to someone else before you know you are sick as well as while you are sick. Young children, those who are severely ill, and those who have severely weakened immune systems may be able to infect others for longer than 5-7 days.
Everyday Preventive Actions
Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
If you or your child gets sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you (or your child) stay home for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. The fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.
While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol based hand rub.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.
If an outbreak of flu or another illness occurs, follow public health advice. This may include information about how to increase distance between people and other measures.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. For more information visit www.cdc.gov.